#WorldMentalHealthDay – Reflecting on My First Year of Therapy

Today I had my last face to face session with my therapist. Since we’re moving to Glasgow next month I’ll be seeing her online biweekly which makes me really happy because I’d hate to start over again (LOL) and I truly value all the work she’s done for me. With Ali and I preparing for the move, I sat here in my office thinking about what else we need to do when suddenly realized that I’ve basically been going to therapy for a year, remembered that it’s #WorldMentalHealthDay and here I am! Also yes I realize that my train of thought went from thinking about moving all the way to how long I’ve been going to therapy LOL.

I’ll start off by saying that I’ve been wanting to see a therapist since I was in high school. I always knew I needed help with my problems and wanted to just talk to someone outside of family and friends who would just sit there and listen to me rant about whatever because I needed and outside perspective.

To be fair, I was actually scared to talk to someone. I always have been but I thought I’d be able to talk to a school counselor but I think around the time I decided to speak to someone it was bad timing. It was the end of school and as you can imagine it was chaotic. I finally mustered up the courage closer to the end of my senior year in high school, went to one of the counselors and was basically told that everything would be ok and that my worst fears at the time won’t come true. They didn’t, but that’s not what I needed from the counselor at that time. I really did need someone to talk to.

Anyway, years pass and we move here to England. I have so much unresolved crap in my life that I became overwhelmed with basically everything. I didn’t realize how much moving countries would take its toll on me. Everyone always said it was brave, and that it was a big deal but I never really understood what they meant because I was happy to uproot and move over to the UK. I am 100% confident in saying that I do not regret this decision. I miss everyone and the convenience of having my loved ones nearby, but I have no regrets whatsoever.

Just because I have no regrets doesn’t mean that I didn’t ever get lonely over feel overwhelmed. I think what triggered this for me was all of the YouTube’s changes – thinking it was only me who was affected, not asking anyone else who do what I do if they felt the way I did because like I said before, I never asked for help. I was also anxious and worried about missing my family and friends, being homesick, and the world moving on without me and needless to say I was stressed AF. I never knew how to cope with this amount of stress, I just cried and accepted that feeling overwhelmed was just life. It is, but no one should go through it alone.

Ali has been my champion and through everything he is doing he’s always made time for me and my problems and is my angel. I truly believe he’s saved me from my own mind sometimes but that’s a whole other story and I’ll start crying if I talk about it LOL.

I didn’t think it was fair to burden Ali (even though he would NEVER use that word and would never feel this way towards me sharing my feelings) with every thought in my mind so I made an appointment with my GP to see a therapist through the NHS, which is an incredible privilege that the UK has. I knew the waitlist was long but I thought to myself, if I waited 10+ years I can wait a couple of months more…

When I finally saw my therapist through the NHS, I thought he was nice enough but when he asked what I wanted to talk about the first thing I mentioned was stress eating. I came to realize recently (actually I forget that I do this from time to time) that I’ve used eating as a way to cope with stress. When I explained why I want to work on it, he had an “a-ha!” moment, grabbed a piece of paper and started to write something. He handed the paper to me and when I looked down and he had written the words “over-eaters anonymous” on it. I looked at the paper, confused, looked back up at him and he said that it’s a group I should look into. Because of this, I thought that this problem of mine was something that I’d just have to deal with on my own. When I spoke to Ali about it, he was PISSED. We both spoke to a few other people about it just to get a second, third, millionth opinion, and everyone was just as angry by it as the both of us.

I decided to go back the next week, shared more about what I needed help with, and I walked out crying. I knew therapy would be intense but not THIS intense. I cried during the session, once I left the office, in my uber, and literally all day at home. I felt HORRIBLE. I brought this up with him the next week and this was brushed off and I was told that everyone cries after a session. HE WAS THERE WITH ME DURING THE SESSION. He knew how much pain I was in but apparently being unable to function for an entire day, not getting anything productive done, wanting to sleep until tomorrow, was normal. Long story short-ish, I didn’t go to my last session. He did not help me. He made things worse.

After New Year’s Day, I decided to start looking privately. I couldn’t let the NHS decide who to stick me with. LET IT BE KNOWN THAT I AM NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT THE NHS, I think the NHS is an incredible privilege to have but I couldn’t take them pairing me with a random who might not understand my needs again. I found a therapist on my own, messaged her, and she decided to see me for an initial assessment session.

When I spoke to her, and told her what I went through with the first person, she was just as in shock with his behavior as the rest of us were. She assured me that we’d work on everything I wanted help with and I’m so happy to say that she has helped me over this last year which has been a huge relief. I’ve opened up to her about all of the things that have overwhelmed me over the years, things that I’ve desperately needed help with, and she’s helped me find ways to deal/cope with them.

Every week there was something that I’d remember to speak about and we’d go through it no matter how difficult it was for me. The best part is that I’d never leave my sessions crying. I might have had a few bajillion cry baby moments but never after a session. She explained to me that people can feel vulnerable afterwards, which I have on numerous occasions, but never to the point where I’m unable to function. Ali also mentioned that people should leave feeling better – like they’ve made progress. With her, I definitely feel like I have. I’m sad I’m “leaving her behind” but I’m so happy that we get to continue the sessions once we move to Glasgow!

The reason I’m talking about this today is because therapy is a normal experience. So many people can benefit from it no matter if you’re feeling low or just need to work on something you’re not happy with. There of course are exceptions like with my first therapist, but let that be an example of how you SHOULDN’T feel and who you SHOULDN’T be around. I actually feel happy that I am able to talk about going to therapy in such a normal way because I really do think that people are scared of what others might think if they know they’re going, but if you’re wanting to better your mental health, what’s the problem? Why worry about how they feel about something you’re doing to help yourself?

People are there for you. If I’ve learned anything from my sessions with her is that it’s ok to ask and accept help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it if you need it. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to just let people in and help you no matter how big or small your problems are.

I am thankful to those of you who took the time to read this and I am glad that #WorldMentalHealthDay exists. ❤